Building My Namibia 2022 Slideshow in FotoMagico 6 (Podcast 785)

Building My Namibia 2022 Slideshow in FotoMagico 6 (Podcast 785)


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I’ve spent some time over the last week building a slideshow of images and videos from my Complete Namibia Tour 2022, and today share some of the main things you might want to keep in mind when using Boinx Software’s FotoMagico 6 to build slideshows of your own. I’ve been using FotoMagico for many years since I switched to the Mac OS full-time in 2010, as my old slideshow software was for Windows, and I needed a good Mac alternative. FotoMagico was the obvious choice, and they have made some nice changes over the years, but in essence, just a very easy way to make powerful slideshows.

In preparation for starting to build my slideshow, I opened Capture One Pro, my raw processing and asset management software of choice, and I selected all 320 of the images that I selected from my Namibia images. I don’t intend to use all of them, and this initial selection does include some groups of similar images, which I generally will only need one photo of. Still, on occasion, I build out an image using variations, and so to start with, I want to see all images at my disposal. Note too that FotoMagico will use just about any image type with any color space, so for ultimate image quality, you might want to go with Photoshop PSD or TIFF files, but I like to use uncompressed JPEG files, as it makes FotoMagico lighter to use, and reviewing your slideshow as you build it can be a little smoother. Note too, though, that I generally don’t resize my images for the slideshow. I export full-sized images. This allows me to zoom in on parts of the images and pan around them etc. If you resize your images to 4K resolution, you can’t zoom in on them without the image quality degrading.

I exported my 320 images into an images folder inside a folder that I called Namibia_2022_Slideshow. Then I went back to my original shoot folders and started to select the various videos that I wanted to include. Some of the videos were in the Apple Photos app as well, as I shot them on my iPhone, so in the FotoMagico Preferences, under the Libraries tab, I turned on the New Media Browser which is currently still in beta. I left just the Photos App checkbox turned on. If you are not going to share your slideshow publicly, i.e., it’s just for private use, you could also enable the Music App to look for your background music, but if you are going to post your video online, you need to steer clear of using any music that you downloaded from Apple Music, etc. as it will result in a copyright strike. I’ll talk more about options for music later.

New Media Browser (beta)
New Media Browser (beta)

All of the videos were shot handheld, and some of the footage needed to be stabilized, but I also waited to see which video clips I would use before taking the time necessary to stabilize it. After starting FotoMagico, and applying the most recent updates, we are now presented with a new dialog. Then I entered the title Complete Namibia 2022, and my name is already saved as the Author. For the format, I selected 16:9, and the grayed-out words 3840px x 2160px (4K UHD) appeared to the right of the Format selection pulldown.

FotoMagico New Project
FotoMagico New Project

Once FotoMagico is open, I recommend selecting Animation Assistant under the Slideshow menu and confirm that your settings are in line with your expectations. Here are the settings that I use. We’ll set the slide length manually in a moment so you can ignore the Animation Speed slider. It would be nice if this could be set to a specific length, but with just slow to fast and no seconds displayed, this slider is pretty useless.

Animation Assistant
Animation Assistant

The rest of the options are probably self-explanatory, but the important thing, at least for my taste, is that the pulldown for the Horizontal, Square, and Vertical Images options is set to Alternate. What this essentially does is alternates the Zoom affect that is automatically applied to your slides when you add them to the slideshow. With Alternate selected, if one slide is set to gradually zoom in on the image, the following slide will zoom out, and then repeat this pattern for all following images.

Once I’ve checked the Animation Settings, I generally insert all of the images I want to include in the slideshow. I then click the Timeline icon above the bottom toolbar because I prefer to work in that view, and then click on any image, then hit Command and the A key on my keyboard to select all images. You can also select all images from the Edit menu. Once you have all images selected, click on the Options icon to the right, just above the Timeline, and under the Slide options, click the number for the Duration, and type in the length of the duration you want to use for your slides. And while you are there, type in something like 1.5 seconds for the Transition Duration as well.

Deciding Your Slide Duration

You can change these durations later, but it will save you time if you think about the slide duration before you start. The easiest way to do this if you already have some music for your slideshow in mind is to listen to the music and find how long each musical bar is. A bar is usually the length of four beats, although it can be different, so listen, and when you find the transition between chords or a natural looping of the drums, etc., use a stopwatch or something to time the length of the bar. If it is a fast-tempo song, you may need to use two bars for each slide. Your goal is to use somewhere between 3.5 and 5.0 seconds for duration. More than five seconds can make the presentation drag, and anything less than 3.5 seconds with the transition overlap will start to feel rushed. I’ll get into the music more later, but I found that for my music, I needed to run with a 3.8-second duration for my slides, so that’s what I entered. If you do already know what music you’ll use, you can drag that into the timeline too, and ensure that it starts where you want it to.

After that, you can start to play your slideshow and see how your images look as they appear one after another and ensure that the timing looks right if you already have music inserted. I use this phase to remove the images that I feel don’t quite match the set. Depending on the purpose of the slideshow, you may need to restrict the length to a specific number of minutes. In the bottom status bar in FotoMagico, you should now see the number of slides you have in your presentation and the total length of the slideshow in parentheses. My original show with all of my images was around 25 minutes, so I tried to remove as many images as possible, but I also added some video, so I’m probably going to be looking at a final presentation of around 18 minutes. I’m going to live with that, although it is quite long because the purpose of my video is to show what is possible in my 17-day Complete Namibia Tour. Plus, on showing it to my wife, who initially frowned when I told her it was 18 minutes, she was surprised when it ended, saying that she thought it was 18 minutes? When I told her 18 minutes had passed, she said it felt more like 8 minutes. That’s the kind of response we’re hoping for.

Productivity Tips

Of course, as you remove images, you will start to notice some places where your zoom doesn’t alternate. A zoom-in may be followed by another zoom-in, and that can look a bit clunky. Ignore these while you remove unnecessary images. Once you are relatively happy with your selection and the flow of your presentation, select all images again and then reselect the Animation Assistant and press the Apply button again. It should reapply all of the zooms so that they alternate again. If you have already started to adjust the duration of some individual slides to match tempo changes or pauses in the music, you can select smaller groups of images and Apply the Animation Assistant more selectively as well.

Also, if you delete images and just have a relatively small number of images that need to switch their zoom direction, you can right-click the images that need changing and select Reverse from the shortcut menu, as you see in this screenshot. This will switch the scaling and position of the Start and Finish points for the slide or slides that you have selected.

Reverse Scaling
Reverse Scaling

For one-off adjustments of the slide or transition duration, you can simply drag the lines at either side of the slide in the Timeline or adjust the durations under the Options for individual slides. Another option I use a lot as I tweak the size of my images is to right-click them and select Fill Stage or Fit to Stage from the shortcut menu. This is much faster than trying to drag the image nodes in or out, and it center aligns the image at the same time, so can help to avoid a number of possible alignment issues.

Quick Image Fitting Options
Quick Image Fitting Options

Also, note the small circle in the center of the previous screenshot. If you move the start or finish image position, you’ll see that circle move around the image. It’s indicating a focal point in the image so for example, if you zoom in on an animal’s eyes, it can be very effective to adjust the position of the image so that the circle is over the eye. That way, as the zoom progresses, the viewer will see that the focus of the zoom is the animal’s eye rather than, for example, the center of the image.

Adjust Animation Start Speed
Adjust Animation Start Speed

Note too that if you have a video or a large panorama image that seems to start and stop very abruptly, you can adjust the ease-in and ease-out of the animation by selecting the video or image in the Timeline, then select Options to the right, just above the Timeline. You should see an Animation Speed option. Open this and drag the node at the start or end of the Animation Speed, and you’ll see a second node appear as you drag the first away from the edge.

You can then drag the new node down, causing the speed to gradually ramp up or ramp down if you are adjusting the end speed. The further away from the edge you move the first node, the longer the ease in or out will take. Note too that you can see the boundaries of your selected slide transition in yellow as a reference.

Adding Music to Your Slideshow

If you have not yet added some music to your slideshow, you probably will need to think about that, as a slideshow without music can be pretty boring. I’m not going to go into much detail on my first recommendation, but essentially, you need to search for some music that you can either use for free or can buy a usage license for at a reasonable price. Check the terms and conditions and ensure that your intended use is covered. For example, if, like me, you will have some commercial messaging in your video, you must buy a license that includes commercial use. Be warned though, that if you upload your video to YouTube, even if you have a license, you will probably still get a copyright strike unless they have changed their policy over the last few years.

I stopped using YouTube years ago because despite presenting YouTube with a license for my background music, signed by the CEO of the company from which I licensed the music, I could not keep YouTube from slapping copyright strikes on my videos. Every time I fought and cleared one strike, the robots would reflag my video, and I had to go through the entire process again. Eventually, after clearing a copyright strike, I immediately deleted my videos, before the bots could reflag anything.

I have since then uploaded all of my videos to Vimeo, and although they do have a copyright strike system, they have humans remove strikes and keep them away. And that has only happened to me once on Vimeo, not continuously, as it did with YouTube. So, I highly recommend Vimeo if your videos contain commercial messaging and licensed background music. The problem there, of course, is that YouTube has a much larger audience, so if you want people to find your videos in searches, you’re going to have to deal with YouTube, and then, my next recommendation becomes almost essential, although I know this is not for everyone.

What I do for all my videos now is create my own music. This is time-consuming and takes a lot of skills and software that you may not already have. If you are not already making music as a hobby or for work, this is probably unrealistic, and therefore I’m not going to go into much detail. For my Namibia video, I started by getting the basic rhythm from the clapping of the Himba people from a video that I include in the video and built on that, using Ableton Live, which is a DAW or Digital Audio Workstation software. I also use a lot of plugins, and some MIDI hardware, namely a Komplete Kontrol S61 keyboard and a Maschine Mikro, both from Native Instruments, and a Seaboard RISE 49 from Roli.

I’ve already spent a number of days trying to create something I feel fits, and although I now have what I think is a very simple and effective introduction, using an African instrument called a Kalimba, I’m stuck for how to proceed to the rest of the piece, so although I wanted to release my slideshow video along with this tutorial, I’m actually going to release this now, and then I will follow up with my video next week, after hopefully completing the music to complement the images and video that I captured.

FotoMagico is available as a free trial if you want to try it before paying for it. They are now running on a monthly or yearly subscription payment rather than a regular license purchase. I know this doesn’t work for some people, but this is how a lot of software is sold now, so as they say, if you want to dance, you’ve got to pay the band. If you don’t see yourself using Fotomagico regularly, you could save money by opting for the Monthly subscription and stop your subscription when you don’t need it. I don’t recall seeing anything about any penalties for doing this, and that is why I opted for the monthly payment.

OK, so I hope the tips I’ve provided today are useful. I’ll embed the video to this post when I’ve finished the music and probably release the video itself as next week’s episode, so please stay tuned for that.

Before we finish, I have decided to unlock the posts on the Martin Bailey Photography website, so you no longer need to be a Patreon supporter to see the content. I did want to add, though, that the Patreon program is still in place, and I very much welcome anyone that finds value in what I’m doing here to support us via Patreon, starting from as little as three dollars per month, which is just $1 per episode, as well as unlocking all previous 784 episodes.


Show Notes

Check out FotoMagico here: https://fotomagico.com

Music by Martin Bailey


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Portfolio for iPad App Review (Podcast 585)

Portfolio for iPad App Review (Podcast 585)

This week I’m going to tell you all about Portfolio for iPad, an app that I’ve just started using to display my portfolios in, and I’m mostly very impressed with. 

For a number of years, I used an app called Foliobook to share my portfolios on my iPad and I was very happy with it, but then Lightroom Mobile came along and gave us automatic synchronization across devices. This was incredibly useful until I started to use Capture One Pro to process my images, instead of Lightroom. I never used Lightroom Mobile to actually process images on the iPad, so I didn’t miss that aspect, but a self-synchronizing portfolio app was missing from my workflow.

A few months ago I told you how I am using the Apple Photo app, and I am still using it to keep a copy of all of my images in my photo timeline, and I’ve even created my Portfolios in albums in the Photos app now, because I wanted a way to sync them between devices. I do still like the casual access to my images that this gives me, but as a display format, it’s slightly lacking. The main problem for me is that images are often cropped so that they fill the screen, and I don’t want that.

iPad Pro 12.9 inch

Two weeks ago, I got a new 12.9 inch iPad Pro. I wanted that big screen for sharing images with people that I meet, and at that point I decided that as the Photos app view wasn’t sophisticated enough for my portfolios, so I went back to Foliobook, setting it up with my main portfolios and a gallery of my videos.

Then, over the last week, I updated a few more of my portfolios, adding some casual work that I’d done over the last year and as I manually added these new images to Foliobook, I thought to myself that there has to be a better way to do this, so, I searched for an alternative.

Two candidates came up. One was Xtrafolio, but that isn’t even available to buy in Japan, and the other was Portfolio for iPad. There are others, but my main reason for looking for a replacement for Foliobook was automatic synchronization, and Portfolio for iPad promised that so I set about the task of trying it out.

Setting Up Galleries

I’m not going to walk you through all of the steps required to get your portfolio galleries set up, but let’s look at some of the points that I learned, to hopefully help to save you time if you ultimately want to work in a similar way to how I’m now using Portfolio for iPad. 

After launching Portfolio the first thing I did was to try adding a few albums containing my portfolio images. To get started with that, I clicked the little cog wheel in the bottom right corner of the screen, which changes to that green check symbol that you can see in this screenshot (below) and the app then displays various settings options.

Settings Screen

Settings Screen

To add a gallery manually, you click the Content button on the left of the list of options, then hit the plus symbol at the bottom of the left column as you can see in this screenshot (below). You just give the gallery a title and import your images.

File Size Limitation

File Size Limitation

At this point in time, you can import images from the Photos app on the iPad, via iTunes, Dropbox or box, and also by using an app from the developer of Portfolio for iPad that enables you to transfer images directly to the app, which is pretty handy.

I first used the method to import directly from the Photos App on the iPad, and that worked flawlessly. The thing to note here though is that if you have Optimize iPad Storage turned on in your Photos & Camera settings on the iPad it’s likely that not all of your images will be available. They have to be all downloaded to your device to even appear in the list. Because I got the 512GB model of the new iPad this is the first device I’ve owned that I’ve actually been able to use the Download and Keep Originals option, so I was able to import entire portfolio folders.

Image Size Limitation

Because I have all of my portfolios in folders in my Dropbox, I also tried importing from Dropbox, and that worked great too until I hit my first problem. As I loaded some of my galleries a message was displayed, as you can see in the previous screenshot, telling me that images larger than 35 megapixels would not be imported. 

Initially this came as a big disappointment because I really didn’t want to export downsized images specifically for this purpose. I can understand that a developer needs to add this kind of safeguard to prevent people with older devices from having problems, but Foliobook, the portfolio application I’ve been using for a number of years, simply warns the user about importing big files, it doesn’t prevent you from doing so.

And the reality is that if you have a relatively new iPad, the system resources are plenty to run galleries of 50-megapixel images. There is also a message in Foliobook telling the user that if they have problems, they should try resizing their images. In my opinion, this is all that is necessary.

Removing the Size Limitation

It turns out that there is a way to remove this limitation in Portfolio for iPad, but I had to wait three days for a reply from the developer before I heard about this. You just have to go to the iPad Settings and scroll down to the Portfolio app, and there is an Advanced settings section with an option to Disable size limits. 

I spent about an hour on the developer’s web site trying to find something like this and came up dry. In my opinion, this is bad design. If there is an option like that, the developer should include a message to that effect in the message displayed telling people that images over 35-megapixel will not be loaded. 

Not only did this waste my time looking for a solution or workaround, but I also went on to export all of my images shot with my Canon EOS 5Ds R bodies resized to 35 megapixels. Then after the developer did get back to me with the solution, I had to go back and re-export all of my 5Ds R images again at full size. 

This took a few hours, and unfortunately, even though by this time I’d figured out how to automatically synchronize the images from Dropbox when you replace the images in Dropbox, the Portfolio app loses their position in the gallery, so I had to spend an hour or so manually sorting my images again. All-in-all I lost around six to seven hours because the developer couldn’t be bothered to alert his end-users to this override option, and that annoys me.

I should also note that as I’d expected, the 50-megapixel files work fine in the Portfolio app. I also exported the Portfolio to my three-year-old iPad Air 2 and it works flawlessly on that device too.

Automatic Synchronization

Luckily though, I’m a somewhat stubborn creature and decided to continue to see if Portfolio for iPad was worth working with. After manually creating a few albums, I figured I’d click the synchronization button in the top left of the Content settings screen, to see how synchronization works. I was presented with a message telling me that synchronizing at the top folder level would replace any manually created galleries, making me happy that I’d only created a few galleries before trying this.

I turned on synchronization and pointed Portfolio for iPad to my Portfolios directory in Dropbox, as you can see in this screenshot (below). I left the mode as Fully Automatic, as I simply want to drop images into my Dropbox portfolio folders moving forward, and have the Portfolio app just pick them up.

Automatic Synchronization from Dropbox

Automatic Synchronization from Dropbox

Once synchronization has completed, it occurs automatically every 5 minutes while you have the app open, so initially, I was updating my images on my computer, resizing them to 35 megapixels, and the Portfolio app was automatically grabbing the new files without any interaction from me. 

I found out later that this would have messed up my manual ordering of images, but during the setup up phase, I was really impressed by this. In fact, until I got to this point, I was still in two minds as to whether or not to continue using Portfolio for iPad, until I saw how well this automatic synchronization works.

If you make any changes that you need to take effect straight away, you can also press the Sync button that appears on many of the setup screens, and a fresh sync will start straight away. This really does work very well.

Videos Work Great!

I was also really happy to see that having added a folder of videos to my portfolios folder in Dropbox, it was automatically synced to the Portfolio app. The player in the app is really pretty as well, so it will look great as a way to share videos with people.

Assigning a Poster Frame

Note that when you first add videos, they are displayed as black boxes. To assign a Poster Frame you just have to press the filmstrip icon below the video after tapping it, then drag the rectangle below the video timeline until it shows the frame that you’d like to represent the video in your gallery, then click Save in the top right-hand corner.

Assigning a Video Poster Frame

Assigning a Video Poster Frame

I noticed that although you can change the title of videos in manually created galleries, in automatically synced galleries, the filename of the video is used, and cannot be changed. So, I went ahead and just changed the filenames to the actual titles, including spaces, and these synched fine, so if you want pretty titles in video files, change them before synching. The extension, .mp4 or .mov etc. is not displayed in the name, which is good.

Titles

I also noticed that when you first import a gallery, either automatically or manually, the file name is used as the title by default, and it doesn’t look great. I imagine this is the default because some people, perhaps a lot of people, don’t add titles to their images in the EXIF or IPTC metadata fields.

I do though, so for each album that I automatically synched, I went into the gallery, clicked the cog wheel above the gallery thumbnails, selected the Configure Metadata option, and then selected IPTC Title instead of Name, as you can see in this screenshot (below). This changes all of the filenames to the actual Title that I’ve given each image and it looks a lot nicer.

Changing Image Titles

Changing Image Titles

Customizing the Appearance

Now that I had my images imported, and syncing nicely and automatically, I set about the task of customizing the appearance of Portfolio for iPad. When I tried to edit one of the three built-in themes I saw a message stating that “Only the appearance can be edited on a built-in theme. To change the layout first make a duplicate of the theme.” I’m not quite sure what this means, but I created a duplicate of the Modern theme and started to customize it.

Initially, I found the customization controls very temperamental. Objects jump around uncontrollably, and I ended up scrapping my first few attempts to change the theme and started again from a fresh duplicate copy. Once I’d gotten used to it though, I was able to replace the background image with one of my photos taken directly from a gallery that I’d imported, and I placed the thumbnails in a part of the screen that looked good to me, as you can see in this screenshot (below).

Finished Portfolio View

Finished Portfolio View

One thing regarding customization that I was a little disappointed with, is that even if you open a PNG file with transparency when you place it in the layout of the app, a white background is added. I was hoping to be able to import my signature and Japanese stamp that I apply to my fine art prints and overlay it on this screen, but it wasn’t possible.

Portrait Orientation View

Portrait Orientation View

Of course, the workaround for this is to overlay the graphic onto a photo or whatever background you want and import, but this is more time-consuming. If I could just have my signature and stamp as a separate element, I could easily move it around and change the background image very easily. 

Portrait Orientation

You can also set a different image for the portrait orientation view, and move the thumbnail bar to another location on the screen, as you can see in this screenshot (right).

If I can make the time I might create some images specifically to use as the background on these pages, but I’d much prefer to be able to overlay PNG files with transparency in tact, and just overlay it on any image from my galleries. 

This would, for example, enable me to update a portfolio on the train on the way to visit someone to show them a portfolio. The more you customize the presentation to a viewers needs, the more likely you are to make a good impression.

One cool thing though, with how the themes work, is that if you wanted to, you can simply duplicate your theme and save a new version with different images, essentially setting up a variety of themes for separate occasions. 

Backing Up Your Library

Once you have something put together that you are happy with, you can back it up, either just for safe keeping or to transfer the library to another device. Backups can be performed either to Dropbox or within the app, and then copied around using iTunes. Here you can see the Backup screen after I’ve made a backup with the Portfolio app (below).

Backing up the Library

Backing up the Library

To transfer this library to my iPhone and a second iPad as a test, I opened up iTunes, then selected the iPad Pro, then the Apps icon in the sidebar, and scrolled down until I could see the list of apps installed on the iPad, then located the Portfolio app, as you can see in this screenshot (below).

Transferring Library from iTunes

Transferring Library from iTunes

Once you can see the backup copy of your library, just drag it to the desktop to transfer it to your computer. To restore this library on another device, just attach that device to iTunes, and navigate to the same location, and drag the library backup file back to the same window for the new device.

This worked as expected for the iPad Air 2, and the 50-megapixel files worked fine too. Note too that restoring the library like this enables you to keep all of your customizations, but then once the library is operational, it starts to synchronize from Dropbox like the original library, so any future updates to your images will be automatically synchronized. And, if you make any major changes, it’s not such a big deal to repeat the above backup and restore process.

Working with Multiple Libraries

Because the backups just sit inside the app until you delete them, you could actually use these backups as a way to keep multiple portfolios libraries on your device, assuming you have enough space. Say you’re a wedding photographer and a landscape photographer, you could maintain two totally different libraries and restore the one you need depending on who you are going to show it to.

Why Full Sized Images

Also, just to close the loop on this, if you are wondering why I want my full sized images in the Portfolio app, if you’ve ever passed an iPad to another photographer to look at your photos, one of the first things that many people do is to zoom in on the image to check the details. Portfolio for iPad lets you do this really well, so I want to maintain as much detail in my images as possible.

Image View

I should also mention that another area I wish was different is the view you get when you first enter a portfolio gallery. Although they disappear after about four seconds, I don’t like being able to see the top and bottom toolbars when you first enter the gallery.

Image Display with Toolbars

Image Display with Toolbars

I would love it if these toolbars remained invisible, even when you first enter the gallery until you touch the screen. You could argue that people might not notice the play button in the top right, but people are accustomed to the interface on an iPad enough to reach out and touch the screen to get started, and then the button and other options would come right back.

Filmstrip and Thumbnail View

The buttons in the middle of the bottom toolbar allow you to switch to a full screen of thumbnails, or just have a filmstrip of thumbnails across the bottom of the larger image as you can see here (below). The filmstrip view is fine, but I really don’t like the all thumbnail view. In my opinion, they need to resize better for larger screens, and also the ability to hide the titles and just have nice looking thumbnails would be good too.

Filmstrip Thumbnails

Filmstrip Thumbnails

EXIF Metadata

One other reason that I used to like about having my images in Lightroom Mobile, was that it was really easy to see shooting information, like EXIF metadata and the histogram for the image. Unfortunately, there is no histogram in Portfolio, but if you click on the little edit button in the bottom right corner, then click on the Metadata tab, you can see the shooting information for the image, which is really nice (below).

Metadata Display

Metadata Display

I wish I could just display this metadata directly, without going to notes first. Although you can also display metadata over the image by changing the gallery settings. Ideally what I’d like is to just be able to tap the image, say with two fingers, and display an overly with the metadata, like you can in Lightroom Mobile. A histogram would be nice for that matter, but not as essential for me as the metadata, and I do have that, so no huge complaints here.

Portfolio for iPhone

I was also initially excited to see that there is another app from the same developer called Portfolio for iPhone. I installed it and restored the backup of my library that we looked at earlier, but I quickly found that the iPhone version of Portfolio is a pretty weak offering. 

It’s a very cut down version of the iPad app and doesn’t even allow the use of much of the EXIF and IPTC metadata in my files, despite having similar options to show the IPTC Title etc. like the iPad version. This simply doesn’t work, which is quite misleading and disappointing.

Also, although I realize that screen real estate is more at a premium on the iPhone, even though I am using the Plus, there are no background images. All you see when you start Portfolio for iPhone is a list of galleries. The images are displayed without any cropping to make them fill the screen, but this is really the only redeeming factor.

What’s more, there is NO SYNC!! You can backup your galleries on the iPad and restore them on the iPhone, and that maintains any image sorting you might have done, but there is no synchronization feature, so all updates will be manual, which is very disappointing.

Granted, it doesn’t actually say that there is any sync functionality in the iPhone version but excited by the features of the iPad version, I’d expected this to be there and bought the iPhone version without checking thoroughly. The iPhone app was only ¥360 though, so it’s probably around $3 in the US store. Because of the pricing, I would probably have bought it anyway to try, but I’ll have to see how much I actually use it. 

Portfolio vs Foliobook

At the time of writing Portfolio for iPad is $14.99 in the US App Store. Foliobook is currently $9.99 with video support being a $1.99 in-app purchase, so it’s basically $12. The extra $3 for Portfolio will give you that all important automatic synchronization. That alone to me makes Portfolio for iPad my new go-to portfolio application. I also like having thumbnails on my gallery view in Portoflio too, where as Foliobook is just text links. 

Once inside a gallery, Foliobook looks better and the thumbnail views are much cleaner. Foliobook is lacking any kind of metadata display as well, so that’s another point in Portfolio for iPad’s favor.

If I was to give a score to each app, assuming that 10 is my perfect portfolio app, I’d give Portfolio for iPad an 8/10 and Foliobook a 7/10. Foliobook is a more sophisticated app in many ways but lacks some important features like auto-synchronization and metadata view. Portfolio for iPad doesn’t get a 10/10 because it lacks polish in many areas. It has most of what I want but needs refining.

Conclusion

In conclusion though, if you are looking for something to help you use your iPad to display your portfolio, be it as a photographer or designer or any other artist creating imagery and/or videos, Portfolio for iPad is well worth taking a look at. Despite some very frustrating setbacks over the last few days as I’ve set it up, I’m now basically very happy with what I have, and the ability to just update my portfolios in Dropbox and have them automatically synchronize to my iPads is absolutely golden.


Show Notes

Check out Portfolio for iPad here: https://ipadportfolioapp.com

Check out Foliobook here: http://www.rocketgardenlabs.com

Music by Martin Bailey


Audio

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Putting a Photo Portfolio Together (Podcast 55)

Putting a Photo Portfolio Together (Podcast 55)

Around 18 months ago I bought a few books on putting together a photography portfolio, and put together my nature photography portfolio. I printed this out in two sizes, one for a serious showing, and one for dropping into my bag to show people a hard copy pretty easily. I also put a copy of the files in order on to my Epson P-2000, which allowed me to play back a slideshow to people very easily, and even output that slideshow to a TV. Probably the most viewed version though was on my Web site. I created a separate gallery just for my Portfolio. This though meant updating two separate galleries and because I never really liked the format for viewing, I found it difficult to keep my interest in the Portfolio high enough to update it more than just a few times.

In recent weeks I’ve evaluated a number of ways to create a professional looking portfolio slideshow that can be served up in a number of different ways, including not only Web, but also by enabling me to create professional looking DVDs to send to people. I’ve just completed updating my Nature Photography Portfolio and uploaded it to my Web site, so in this episode I’m going to talk about the various steps taken to get to this initial goal of publishing the first portfolio with the new software.

So, initially, as I said, a year and a half ago I bought a couple of books on creating a portfolio, and one that I particularly found useful was “Photo Portfolio Success” by John Kaplan. John Kaplan is a Pulitzer Prize winner, and really knows what he’s talking about when it comes to both photography and how to put together a great portfolio. I’m not going to go into details of what is written in the book, as I don’t have permission to do so, and it is of course copyrighted material. What I will do though is explain a few general pieces of advice that I gained from the book that I myself have kept in mind while putting my portfolio together, intertwined with my own ideas and practices. If you are interested in picking up a copy of John’s book by the way, you can find a link to it and many other books that I’ve found useful on my Recommended Reading page, found under the Quick Links section of my Web site’s menu at martinbaileyphotography.com.

The first thing I did to start putting my portfolio together was decide what the theme for the portfolio was going to be. Anyone that has been shooting for a while will probably have a whole load of images that could be dropped into a portfolio and help to make it work. The thing is, depending on what you want to do with your portfolio, you will have to limit yourself to between 20 and 50 images. For a portfolio that you will print out and actually take to present to say an art director of a gallery or editor of a magazine, you probably want to keep your portfolio closer to 20 to 30 images, as they simply don’t have time to view them all. John’s book says that the maximum is forty images, which I’d say is good advice, but for a multimedia presentation where you can control the time that each mage is displayed, I reckon you can push this a little more. I still I wouldn’t recommend more than 50 images under any circumstances though.

So how do you go about selecting your first batch of images? You are almost inevitably going to have too many images that you could consider including in your portfolio than it would be advisable to actually add, so the process is one of eliminating images, removing the weaker ones until you have a prime batch of your best work. As I have pretty much all my best work uploaded to my online gallery, all of my images have a unique number assigned to them, so I tend to use a database to sort and segregate images, using this unique number. You can of course though use your favourite photo viewing software, especially if it has a lightbox feature to allow you to sift through large numbers of images and copy your favourites to another location, or mark them with keywords if your software will allow you to list images from multiple directories based on keywords or ratings. I first went through my gallery and created a list of various themes. I ended up with a list of images for birds, bugs, Hokkaido, landscapes, waterfalls and even environmental portraits. Some images were added to multiple lists. For example I have a number of shots of cranes and eagles that fall under the birds and Hokkaido themes. Once I had a list of my best shots in various themes I started to look through them, and decided that I still wanted to produce a portfolio that will explain what I am about as a photographer. As those who have been following this Podcast for a while will know, my passion is nature photography, in particular, the nature of Japan.

By now, I’d actually created a database and entered the numbers I’d noted earlier into a number of collections of themes, and this allowed me to list all the images for each theme on one page on my Web site. If you have access to a computer right now, go to my Web site, which is martinbaileyphotography.com, and click on the “Portfolios” button in the menu at the top of your browser window. The list of available portfolios will grow as I create more, but for now, you should be able to see one portfolio called “The Nature of Japan”. For now, please don’t click the link to view the slideshow. Rather, click on the “View Contact Sheet” link. This will open a page and display all of the images that I have included in my Nature Portfolio. What I want to explain here though is that I now had a list like this for all of the themes I’d added images too. This enabled me to do another run through and select another shortlist of images for my Nature of Japan portfolio. You will probably be doing this without the help of a database though, so what you’ll need to do is either select for one single portfolio from the start. If you do go through all of your images and segregate them into various possible themes first, you can probably just add keywords to your images that you can use to round them back up again after wards. I suggest that you try to avoid actually copying your images to a separate folder, at least at this time, as you want to make it as easy as possible to create a dynamic list of your images that can be changed by simply adding or removing keywords, or like me, just adding or removing a number in a database. Whatever method you choose to mark your selection, if you are also going to create a portfolio that will be the quintessential you, your main portfolio, you could do something like I’ve done and create a portfolio of images that are from related themes, in one master portfolio.

My first selection from all of my nature related themes resulted in around 80 images. Of course this is way too many, so I had to go through and remove the weaker one. It’s important here to be true to yourself about what you remove. We all have favourites. Images that we want to keep in. But if you know in yourself that an image, all be it one of your favourites, is not quite sharp, or has anything about it that makes it inferior to your other work, get rid of it. It’s a sad fact that if your portfolio is being reviewed for selection against other portfolios, it will be deselected for its weaknesses, and not selected for its stronger shots, so basically, we have to remove everything that is not you at your best. You might find that you simply don’t have 20 or more images on any one theme worthy of going into a portfolio. If that’s the case, by all means start your portfolio with just 10 shots, but then visualize what you want to fill the gaps, and get out shooting with that purpose in mind. You might even find that filling out your portfolio becomes a project in itself that drives your creative activities, which has got to be a good thing.

When I first created a portfolio, as I said about a year and a half ago, once I had my 40 images selected, I printed them out on 5×7 paper. I did this for two reasons. The first was because I’d bought a small album with 20 clear plastic pages into which I could place 2 images back to back. This was to be my little portfolio to drop into my bag to show people and give them a feel for what I was shooting. The other reason though was that I was going to use these 5×7 prints to lay out on my table and decide the order in which I would add them to the portfolio. You could though arrange the order in your viewer software if the light-box feature allows you change and maintain the position of your selected images. By the time I’d trimmed down my selection of 80 images to 50, I simply printed out the page of thumbnails directly from my browser selecting to print them at high quality, and then I cut them out, so that I had 50 4.5 x 4.5 cm square pieces of paper, one for each photo. This allowed me to lay out the images on my living room table again to decide the order. This is probably not the best way to do it, unless you really know the content of your images, as you can’t make out much detail in the prints at this size.

For my original portfolio, I tried to order them roughly by season, starting from spring, running through summer, autumn and then winter. Within that order, I paid close attention to colouring of each image, grouping similar colours together, and when changing colours, I tried to find a common colour between the slides being placed together. I also tried to keep similar subjects grouped together within the portfolio. I had birds in one group, bugs in another, and flowers in another etc. The first run I did arranging the order of my tiny prints this time was done in pretty much exactly the same way, but when I’d finished and looked at the collection I was really not happy with it. It seemed too predicable, with no sense of excitement. It was at this point that I took up John Kaplan’s advice from his book, and decided to mix images of various subjects, shot at various focal lengths. John also advises to place your better shots throughout the portfolio to bolster the weaker images. What I did was select eight shots that I really like. From them I was to choose my two favourites. The one I like the best, will be the opening shot. I’ll add this to the Podcast for something to look at, though I’m not going to go into details of the shots I include today, and of course, I’m not going to add all of the images from my nature portfolio. That would make the Podcast way too large.

Siberian Rubythroat's Opera

Siberian Rubythroat’s Opera

The second favourite was to be the closing shot.

Lone Swan

Lone Swan

In the search for my favourite shots I found that I now had four rows of images. The front row of around 8 shots included the two favourites and 6 other close favourites. The second row was shots I really like, but not quite as good as top eight shots. The third row was other shots that I feel are technically well executed, artistic images, well worthy of being in my portfolio, but not as good as my first two rows. The last rough of again 8 images were all of the shots that I really wanted to keep in, but knew that they were not really meant to be there for one reason or another. It was at this time that I decided to drop these eight shots, leaving 42 for the final portfolio. I then simply took my favourite, and placed it at the far left of my table to start the portfolio. I took the second favourite and placed it on my table at the far right, slightly lower than my first as I was going to need two rows. I then took the other six favourites and placed three along the top row to the right of my starting image, and placed the remaining three along the second row to the left of my finishing image. I then took my second row from my selection, which was my next best batch of shots after my real favourites, and I spaced these between the eight shots already laid out in two rows. I then took my last row, which was the portfolio worthy, but not quite as good as my second row, and laid them out in the remaining gaps.

I now had two rows of images with my best shots equally spaced between my other favourites and the slightly weaker images. Remember though everything thing I have in the portfolio now is stuff that I am really quite proud of as images that represent the quintessential Martin Bailey as a nature photographer specializing in images of The Nature of Japan. I could now see my final cut laid out in front of me, and start to do some fine tuning on the order. Quite the opposite of my first portfolio, I was now trying to keep shots of similar subjects apart from each other. I ensured that there was a variety of focal lengths. I tried to make sure that there were not too many wide expanse landscape shots next to telephoto or macro close-ups. I ensured there was not too many shots that shared a similar colour. Green is often a common colour in nature photography, and does appear in many shots, but I tried to space other colours such as reds and yellows throughout the portfolio to break up the greens and paler coloured images. After a little fine tuning I found that the random way in which I’d placed the photos was a great start, and it really didn’t take much time to come up with my final order for the portfolio. I then input the numbers into my database again in the new order and that resulted in the contact sheet page that we looked at earlier.

Now for the next part of the exercise which is to create a slideshow for Web presentation, and also to burn to DVDs for distribution. I had been evaluating a couple of software packages for this purpose, and having taken everything into consideration I decided to go with Photodex’s ProShow Producer. They also have a product with most of the features of Producer called ProShow Gold, which I heard about in our photography forum a while back, but I decided to go for the Producer version which is quite a lot more expensive, as it has a few additional features that I felt important for my ultimate goal of creating professional DVDs for distribution, namely the ability to totally brand the presentation and bitsetting the DVD so that it appears as a DVD-ROM disk for the highest compatibility on DVD players. With the aid of a player plug-in, ProShow producer allows extremely smooth Web playback with relatively small downloads that are streamed for performance, but the downside is that the plug-in is only available for Windows. I’m trying to find out if Photodex is planning to develop a plug-in for browsers on other systems such as Mac or Linux, but I have not yet received a reply. If I create a DVD of the show though, it plays perfect well on Mac OSX as well as probably pretty much any other DVD player. The other option was using flash for the portfolio presentation, but it just didn’t seem to provide the smoothness of playback that I was looking for, and I couldn’t find a package that was going to allow me to make such powerful presentations and then output them in as many different ways as my final choice. I do have to apologise to all of those listeners that use Mac or Linux as you will miss out on the fun unless you can take a look on a Windows machine.

The last thing I want to say about the multimedia presentation is that I had totally completed the slideshow itself and was very happy with the results, and then I spent a few hours on the Web searching for some stock music that I could buy to embed into the presentation as a final touch. I didn’t want to have to edit the music, making loops etc, so I started searching through some stock music sites for suitable tracks over 7 minutes long, as the final slideshow is 7 minutes long. I found a great track that I also used in the intro for today’s episode on stockmusic.net. Having embedded this music into my portfolio, I have to say the presentation really just came to life. If you yourself create a portfolio I not only suggest you add music yourself, I suggest you spend the necessary time to find something that really matches your images, as I believe the music I chose does.

Before we close, I wanted to quickly mention that my other physical portfolio is printed on A3+ paper, with each print slipped into a poly sleeve and placed in a portfolio box that in turn drops into a large leather case to house the box to transport it around. I bought this from Light Impressions, but the book on Photo Portfolio Success from John Kaplan lists many other types of album and archival boxes etc, and numerous ways of producing multimedia presentations, so if you are interested, you might want to consider picking up a copy.

So, the last thing we need to do today is, if you have access to a Windows computer, go to my Portfolios page by clicking the Portfolios button in the menu at the top of your browser window at martinbaileyphotography.com and take a look at my new portfolio entitled “The Nature of Japan”. (SEE NOTE BELOW) Let me know what you think about the portfolio too. Today I’ve really just shared my experiences in putting together my portfolio, and want you to understand that I am really no an expert in this field. One thing I do have to do next is try to get some professional feedback on my Portfolio. I am very happy with it, and would hope there’s not too much slamming feedback from a pro reviewer, but all the same, it’s important to get feedback from a third party. Again, I apologize to those that do not have access to a Windows and so can’t view the portfolio right now. Please do check back later though, as I’m going to continue to work on a way to allow all visitors to my Web site to view the portfolio.

NOTE: Since I originally released this Podcast in September 2006, my Nature of Japan portfolio was revised a number of times, and then became my first solo exhibition. I stopped updating using Photodex, because they never developed a Mac compatible plugin, and I myself migrated to the Mac platform in 2011 too, making it impossible to use. Also, posting videos online has become much more main stream now, and so the Photodex technology, although very good, is less useful now than it was in 2006. Anyway, you can see the latest iteration of my Nature of Japan portfolio here:

The Nature of Japan


Show Notes

I put my portfolio together with a piece of software from Photodex called ProShow Producer. You can find it here:http://www.photodex.com/

Here is a link to StockMusic.Net that I bought the music for my portfolio presentation from: http://www.stockmusic.net/

Here’s a link to the Light Impressions Web site, where I bought my portfolio box and case etc:http://www.lightimpressionsdirect.com/


Audio

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Download this Podcast in MP3 format (Audio Only).

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